Fresh blueberries and blackberries are bursting out of local farms these days, and we're seeing them pop up all over menus from entrees to desserts. However you like 'em, we can help.
Over at Tristan, Pastry Chef Amanee Neirouz is putting together a bowl o' berries, with a Tristan touch. The blueberries are pickled in sugar, salt, vanilla bean, and lemon, and the strawberries are puréed with so much sugar they turn to a jam. Then, they dehydrate raspberries to a raisin texture. "When you dry them it really intensifies the flavor," says Neirouz. The blackberries are puréed twice (first cold, then hot) with a sweet Japanese jelly called agar-agar. Throw 'em all together in a bowl, garnished with meringue kisses and candied lemon zest to top it off. Wowza.
Two Boroughs Larder is also working with berries to make a Charleston Gold Rice panna cotta. "There are a lot of clean flavors," says Sous Chef Kein Getzwich. "We're just utilizing the local ingredients." First, they steep the rice in milk (the extra lardy kind), and strain it. Then they add herbs, thyme, Bailey's, and honey to the milk and let it sit with a gelatin. The blueberries are prepared agrodolce, which means sour and sweet in Italian, with lemon juice, vinegar, and syrup until they turn to a viscous liquid. It gets thicker as it cooks. Then they put the rice, milk, and blueberries together, complete with mint and orange agrumoto (an Italian citrus made from olives).
"We go wild whenever we have fresh fruit," says Kris Holmes, co-owner of Dixie Supply Co. Chef Patrick Woodham's Carolina Summer Salad is a bed of lettuce dressed in blueberry bacon (yes really, blueberry and bacon) dressing. Fresh blueberry juice is emulsified with extra virgin olive oil and bacon fat, and then some chopped (extra fine) bacon and sherry vinegar are added to the mix. The tossed greens are topped with fresh, local blueberries, peaches, wild plums (the size of cherry tomatoes), and roasted sweet silver queen corn. They add a dash of dressing to the top, but not too much so it doesn't overpower the fresh flavors of the fruits and corn.
Glass Onion co-owner Sarah O'Kelley has been filling the fridge with blueberry preserves and is using them to make a blueberry chocolate pound cake. She folds the berries into the cake batter for a fruity swirl of local goodness and slathers the top with chocolate butter cream frosting, "Everyone loves icing," O'Kelley says. "It just makes everything better."
FIG is putting out a peach and blueberry or peach and blackberry tart. Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope says the choice between blackberry or blueberry, "really just depends on what comes in that day" from Hickory Bluff Farms in Walterboro. The base is an almond frangipane, which is an almond flour filling made with almonds, eggs, sugar, and butter. The fruit is set in and around the frangipane and is topped with fresh almonds and raw sugar. It is served à la mode, with a vanilla frozen yogurt.